Rachel Sermanni and a fox.
Memory lane. Groningen.
FRUIT. A curious name for a venue.
On arrival, unravelled: It was once a market place. Once a place of vended fruit.
As soon as through the door, we are offered refreshments of the warm sort. Such welcome is appreciated. Howard and team are good.
I weedle away on the fiddle for a while as things are set up. Sometimes you just need one.
Backstage is as big as a barn and would be warmer- and I make sure to suggest it- if some cattle or barn ilk did, in there, reside.
Instead there sits, in constant slumber, a caravan. Rotting from the inside out.
We film a session for a boy called Josh.
We do a little photo shoot with a man called Ian.
It’s a very productive time behind the stage. Everyone’s doing a good job.
Tom Skelly sings deep and stormy and moves his feet on occasion. Delicate as a dancer.
Pete plays a great set. Calls our audience ‘small but perfectly formed.’
They’re a relaxed lot, slouched in sofas.
I imagine the same image but years on.
I see an old folks home. It’s a good thought, think I.
Pete Roe. Last summer. Produced a record.
The band: Hot Feet.
Hot Feet are at Pete Roe’s door.
Soon the house is creaking, sighing in dusty early afternoon light, with the hubbub of humans.
Set the table for eight.
Choke on the chilli and allspice on the air.
Hot Feet are lovely from the short moments I have been lucky enough to know them. We share fajitas.
Another Industrial estate. Another venue. The Musician, just like The Studio in Totnes, is a gem of a venue.
Music happens every night in this venue. There’s nothing of a panic to the atmosphere. It is placid. It is well run.
Stomachs begin the usual howling after sound-check.
Italian round the corner.
The only customers, we take our seats.
Orders scribbled. White waiter paper.
I tell Pete about The recording of The Bothy Sessions.
It began with an unsuccessful capturing of feeling in an early EP recording. I had come out of the studio dissatisfied with the sounds.
Was convinced something wasn’t right. But fast losing time to find out what.
One more chance lingered, ripening in the summer air. Soon the Autumn would have me touring. Soon the summer fruit would melt. The blossoms wilt. There’d be nothing to sell.
I had a wee idea.
Deemed possible by friend and manager, Rob.
I emailed friends. Could they make it to the highlands with 2 days notice.
As fateful decisions were circling and manifesting in the south, I made my way into a forest with friend and sound engineer, Gareth Ince.
On Alvie estate. I lived here as a very small child. Before my little brother or sister’s time.
In the heart of a young, century old forest.
There’s a beautiful building. Tin roof. Wooden and painted green. A balcony overlooks a hill with a river at the foot.
Generator rumbles. Lawn mower. Metres away from our Bothy.
In the middle of a wooden space.
Stove fire crackling with new life.
We record all the writings I can recount.
Then Gareth, with reluctance; with need for persuading that ‘of course I will be ok’ drives off, down the track.
I am brushing my teeth at the burn. Watch the red of the break lights disappear.
The dark quickly falls upon me.
The silence, caused by the killing of the generator engine, swallows my ears like a head under water.
Beside the hearth of the dying fire I lay my sleeping bag. Around me I place every candle lit. The fading oil lamp.
They seem to suck the illumination from the room. The darkness only becomes more concentrated.
As does the quiet.
I am near paralysed.
Quickly blow out each flicker and lay down…
What follows is a ‘sleep’ like no other.
Next day, ten musical humans arrive.
One human barely knows any of us, not even me. Steve Brady.
Steve has met me twice before. Once in LA. Once in Liverpool. Becomes a good friend by the end of four days stay at the Sermanni house.
We record. There is no pre knowing what will happen. How could there be without knowing who would show? And yet everything works.
Every musical instrument finds a home.
Each person, a chromosome, to form a beautiful child.
Magical things. Fate. And Trust. And friends.
The Italian meal is the best we’ve had all tour.
The gig too is very good. I am so thankful to see so many faces. And to hear Sam Jones play.